Tiger Woods tied for lead after opening 66 in Australia

By Doug FergusonNovember 12, 2009, 6:14 pm
JBWere Masters

MELBOURNE, Australia – Tiger Woods putted for birdie on every hole but the last one. He birdied all the par 5s. And the one time he took on one of the short par 4s at Kingston Heath, he came within inches of reaching the green.

It was just the kind of performance a massive crowd at the Australian Masters expected to see.

Despite a bogey on his final hole when he drove into a tea tree, Woods put together a stress-free round of 6-under 66 on Thursday to share the lead after one round with James Nitties and Branden Grace.

“I bogeyed the last hole and missed two short putts for birdie,” Woods said. “Other than that, it was a pretty good day.”

It felt like more than that to the kind of gallery typically seen only at major championships. Tournament officials said 21,356 people came through the turnstiles, with about 5,000 others giving Kingston Heath a buzz it hasn’t felt in years.

“It was like when I first turned pro and (Greg) Norman used to play,” Cameron Percy said after a 67. “It was like a major, basically.”

Nitties, who easily retained his U.S. PGA Tour card in his rookie season, played behind Woods and quietly joined him in the lead with two birdies over his last three holes.

Grace, a 21-year-old from South Africa, made his first tournament round in Melbourne a memorable one by running off four straight birdies at the turn. He had the lead to himself until a bogey on the 17th.

“I’m up there, and hopefully I can keep playing that way for the next three rounds,” he said.

Woods missed only two fairways in a round that was relatively free of trouble until he pulled his tee shot on the ninth hole, had to chip out of the tea tree into thick rough, did well to bounce it on the green and took two putts from 40 feet. He chose to lay back from the bunkers on several of the short holes, although birdie chances didn’t come by the bushel. Woods hit away from the flag when he didn’t have the right angle; other times, he simply hit poor shots.

“I did a lot of lag putting,” he said.

He made his move toward the end of the round, hitting 3-wood to the 294-yard sixth hole that held its line to the left of the bunkers and came up just short of the green, leaving an easy chip to a foot. After a poor tee shot left him a bad angle to the green on the seventh, Woods hit 8-iron over the corner of trees to 20 feet for another birdie, then hit 8-iron to 7 feet on No. 8 to set up his third straight birdie.

Far more impressive than the golf, however, was the gallery.

Traffic was backed up along Kingston Road outside the club for miles in the hour before Woods teed off.

“I know,” he said. “I was stuck in it, too.”

The tournament has been a sellout for months, and it remains peculiar to see a ticket window at an Australian golf tournament with a sign that says “Sold out.” The cap was at 100,000 tickets for the week – not all of them come through the front gate – and while it was impossible for some 25,000 fans to stay on one hole, whoever couldn’t fit in moved ahead to the next couple of holes.

That turned into a treat for the likes of Seve Benson, playing in the group ahead of Woods, feeling like a rock star himself.

“It was amazing,” Benson said after a 70. “After a couple of holes, you get used to it. But then you realize that they were not on the hole before. They had been there for awhile waiting.”

Thousands headed for the exit when Woods finished, although a fair crowd stuck around for the afternoon, even though the action slowed severely. Mathew Goggin, who played in the final group at Turnberry with Tom Watson, had a 69 to match the best score in the afternoon, when bleachers were half-full.

Most of the crowd followed Adam Scott, slowed by a three-putt bogey from 10 feet in his round of 71. Stuart Appleby also had a 69.

Perhaps the toughest spot was playing behind Woods, as marshals allowed the gallery to stop in the middle of crossing areas so that the fans entirely circled every green on which Woods, defending champion Rod Pampling and Craig Parry were putting.

Parry holed a 50-foot putt on the fourth and shot a 70, while Pampling had a 71.

Among those in the gallery was Woods’ mother, Kultida, who usually only travels to Augusta National and Sherwood Country Club for her son’s tournament in December.

Percy and Doug Holloway were at 67, while Greg Chalmers was in the group at 68.

Geoff Ogilvy, the only other player besides Woods in the top 50 at Kingston Heath, took double bogey on his final hole for a 72.

Nitties already was fired up about coming home to Australia, especially after a successful rookie campaign in which he tied for fourth in the FBR Open to get his year started right. Then came a week of practice, with the Heath buzzing over Woods.

“Tiger’s here, so it’s huge,” he said. “I love it. You want to do well in front of your local crowd.”

Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.